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OFFICIAL HISTORY: ITS PITFALLS AND CRITERIA
historiography of the origins of the war of 1914. This
was particularly remarkable in the minute researches,
the intricate collation of documents, and the detailed
detective work which are evident in certain major
writings of the late i92o's. The original simple " melo-
drama " of 1914 was transformed into a story of higher
organisation altogether—a story possessing that texture
which a piece of history seems to acquire when, instead
of burying the recalcitrant fact and the inconvenient
discrepancy, it allows itself to be driven by these very
things to a higher synthesis altogether.

The rise of fifitler and the consequent political strain
or fever seem to have had a serious effect on that whole
type of scientific enquiry in England, Not only was the
great task discontinued, but there occurred one of those
remarkable throwbacks which occasionally take place
in the history of historical science—we had a general •
return into currency of the primitive, garbled, war-time
versions of the origins of the war of 1914. The view
that what happened was in reality a retrogression can be
supported by tests of an external kind, tests which might
be put forward as affording general criteria for a judg-
ment of quality on works of contemporary history.
Firstly, in the return to the older version of the origins "
of the war of 1914, it is difficult to see a fraction of that
scholarship which had been so impressive in the late
1920*5 and to which I have never come across any
authentic or scholarly answer* Secondly, there does^
not appear to be the same texture in the narrative—a
texture which results when history is written with a due
respect for the complexity of events. Thirdly, the

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